In fact, I’m thinking of abandoning the whole artificial construct of the large commercial Social Networks entirely, and I have a number of reasons that have been brewing at the back of my mind for a while.
First off, I was a late adopter to the Social Networking scene in general, and was never really convinced of it’s usefulness. I completely missed the MySpace and Friendster era of social networking, and don’t feel any pangs of regret over that. I had trouble with the whole concept of joining such an artificial construct in order to make it easy for distant acquaintances to keep in touch with me. I have a very small circle of friends and family that I keep in touch with, and this is by choice. It is a limited group due to the fact that I don’t keep in touch with people I’m only tangentially interested in dealing with. Life’s too short. I would rather spend my limited socializing time with people who’s company I genuinely enjoy.
Secondly, and no less importantly, I have never been particularly comfortable with such blatant profiteering by others of my friendship circles. Facebook, MySpace, G+, LinkedIn, essentially all of the “free” social networks make their dime by selling marketing information and access based on how you intersect and interact with others on their network. This is really not much different than how marketing and sales works in the real world, but the social networks make the data-mining trivially easy. I expect marketing companies to analyze individual behaviour and relationships to effectively target their wares. But my general sense of orneryness makes me want to make them at least work for it.
Further, I wonder about the time commitment it takes on my part to make effective use of the platforms. I won’t deny that they have some use, but to really get something out of it, you have to put something in. And the time involved with putting something in is striking me as more valuably spent on other activities. The Return on Investment I get from my activity in social networks is fairly negligible.
Overall, I just don’t “get it” never did, couldn’t be bothered to waste the time to figure it out, and am somewhat creeped out by the whole thing on a subconscious level. So why the heck should I continue to spend time on it?
So, do I actually believe I can drop the habit? I honestly don’t know. If I’m being honest with myself, it will probably be difficult to wean myself of Facebook and G+. In spite of never really being comfortable with, or fully embracing, either the concept or the platform, I’ve found myself spending an increasing amount of time on them over the past year or so. It has become somewhat of a reflex to “check my news feed” on FB and G+ several times a day. I’m almost interested in trying to abandon it just to see if I can, if I have the will-power to do it.
Do I plan on any alternatives to Social Networks? Maybe, partly, kinda sorta, in a nebulous sort of way. Maybe spend some more time blogging. Maybe build out a limited access BBS or some such and take a stab at creating a small community of like-mindeds that I actually find it appropriate to keep in touch with in an online kinda way. Most people, I’ll just call, visit, or email directly. That strikes as being a far more effective and genuine means of maintaining a genuine social network.